Hundreds Defy Curfew in Kargil, Clash With Police Amid Unrest Over Article 370 Move, Bifurcation

Hundreds Defy Curfew in Kargil, Clash With Police Amid Unrest Over Article 370 Move, Bifurcation

Authorities imposed prohibitory orders from Thursday in Kargil, Drass and Sankoo towns to prevent any violence in response to the government decisions.

Kargil: Several people were detained in Kargil on Thursday after they defied restrictions and took out a rally to protest against the revoking of Article 370 of the Constitution which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir.

The government move to scrap special status and bifurcate the state has been met with resentment in the Muslim majority region, which identifies culturally more with Kashmir, but has been placed under the Ladakh union territory after bifurcation.

As the intensity of protests increased, the authorities imposed indefinite prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the RPC from 5am on Thursday in Kargil, Drass and Sankoo towns, expanding the lockdown to prevent any violent reaction to the government decisions.

But defying the curfew, hundreds of protesters under the banner of Joint Action Committee (JAC) took out a rally. Some of the protesters were detained after a clash broke out between police and protesters, officials said.

Talking to reporters here, former minister and NC leader Qamar Ali Akhoon said, "We wanted a united state. Jammu, Ladakh and Kashmir should be one entity. We are fighting for restoration of Article 370.”

District Congress president Nasir Hussain Munshi said the central government has "violated our fundamental rights". "They are violating our right to expression. Today, we took out a peaceful rally to protest against the revoking of Article 370, but were stopped from going ahead with it," he said.

The JAC Kargil has submitted a memorandum to President Ram Nath Kovind through the deputy commissioner of Kargil.

Protests have been held in the district since Tuesday, when the revocation of special status after Parliament gave its nod to the government decision. On Wednesday, a bandh was organised, as schools, markets and streets remained empty, except for a group of demonstrators.

The Imam Khomeini Memorial Trust, Kargil, an influential religious group in the region, supported the protest. The chairman of the trust, Sheikh Sadiq Rajai, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the new law amounts to an attack. “It’s an attack on our identity. This decision will disempower our people,” he said.

Former Kargil lawmaker Asgar Ali Karbali also condemned the government’s move to divide the region, referring to it as “a black day in the history of India.” Karbali said he doesn’t accept the decision, and that others in Kashmir also won’t.

“It was the people of Leh that were demanding that Ladakh be freed from the Kashmir region over a long time, not us. Kargil is against the division of Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of religion, language and region. The move is undemocratic,” Karbali said.

The people of Kargil have opposed Ladakh’s decades-long demand to be severed from Kashmir. The friction between the two districts has occasionally sparked clashes between the two communities.

Residents of Kargil on Wednesday said they felt more affinity with Kashmir than Leh, and worried that the decision could lead to a flood of people from outside the region damaging their pristine landscape.

“Our jobs are in danger. Now people from India will come here and settle. Our jobs will go to them. We were never consulted before India took this decision,” Ghulam Mustafa said.

(With inputs from PTI and Associated Press)

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